Arkadelphia News

SAU departments win grant to study potential crop growth on Mars |

The Arkansas Space Grant Consortium board voted to fund Dr. Gija Geme, Dr. Tim Schroeder of chemistry, and Dr. Copie Moore of agriculture to explore the feasibility of growing crops such as soybeans, corn, lettuce, kale and more in a Mars soil simulant.

The Mars soil stand-in is improved with fertilizer to add micronutrients. The team received $50,000 from NASA funding through the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium.

This project aims to measure heavy metal uptake by plants using Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) Spectroscopy analysis. The soil on Mars is almost entirely made up of mineral matter with small amounts of water and no organic matter. NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, showed that the mineral matter in Martian soil comes from the weathered volcanic rock of mineralogy similar to weathered basaltic soils of volcanic origin in Hawaii.

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